Editor’s Note: Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh was a panelist at the recent Otsego County Chamber of Commerce “State of the State” Breakfast. The following is her address.
Good morning and thank you to the Otsego County Chamber for hosting this forum. I am honored to be included on this panel of city, county, and state elected officials and a representative of Congress.
For most of you, the calendar year is your fiscal year. That is not the case for our village—the Village of Cooperstown’s fiscal year is June 1st to May 31st, so we are two-thirds of the way through our current 2022-23 budget. Next month we will begin budget workshops to have a tentative 23-24 budget in place by the mandated deadline of March 20th.
Our General Fund budget is usually about $4.1 million and we also have separate Water and Sewer budgets which total approximately 2.2 million, resulting in about a $6.3 million dollar village budget.
It was a sellout crowd last Friday, January 20, as the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual “State of the State” networking breakfast. The conference, which took place in the Otsego Grille of SUNY Oneonta’s Morris Hall, was introduced by Sean Lewis, president and chief executive officer of the chamber, as a vehicle to “allow the panelists a chance to express their view of where we are and their vision of where we are heading.”
The panel of eight public figures included New York State Senator Peter Oberacker and Assemblymen Brian Miller, Chris Tague and Brian Maher, whose constituents reside in various portions of Otsego County.
The county itself was represented by County Administrator Steve Wilson and Treasurer Allen Ruffles. Oneonta Mayor Mark Drnek and Village of Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh rounded out the panel.
COOPERSTOWN—The Village of Cooperstown recently received a Tree City USA Grant from the New York State Urban Forestry Council. The money was used to plant three new trees on Susquehanna Avenue between Beaver Street and the Susquehanna River—a red oak, a single oak, and a katsura tree.
Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh was joined on November 14 by second-grade students from the Cooperstown Elementary School, members of the Village Board of Trustees and Tree Committee, and students from SUNY Oneonta’s Cooperstown Graduate Program, who led a program about trees for the second graders.
Trees play a critical role in creating healthier, safer and more connected communities. The village is pleased to be able to expand its street tree canopy through this generous award.
The summer of 2022 will be remembered as the year our beloved Lake Otsego first suffered a Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB).
The conditions which allow a HAB to occur are known. This column reviews Village of Cooperstown public beaches, boat launch sites and most importantly, Village drinking water.
The SUNY Oneonta Biological Field Station (BFS) has monitored lake conditions for decades. This summer, when Glimmerglass State Park first noted an algae bloom on July 27 and closed, BFS began twice weekly testing at locations around the lake. The results of those tests are on their website — suny.oneonta.edu/biological-field-station.
What better time than the middle of National Volunteer Week (April 17 – 24) to take the time to salute every person who gives their time — truly our most precious commodity — to help others.
The Freeman’s Journal/Hometown Oneonta receives a few dozen press releases each week from community groups of every stripe throughout Otsego County — organizations looking out for the environment, preserving open spaces, grooming hiking trails. Groups dedicated to keeping political discourse at a civil level, encouraging citizens to vote and participate in democracy. Programs to feed the hungry, help the homeless, save and protect animals. Perform for and promote local arts and artists, help out in the schools, decorate village streets for holidays, coach Little League and soccer and basketball.
And almost as an aside, such announcements usually include some semblance of this proud statement: “[insert name] is an all-volunteer organization governed by a volunteer board of directors.”
Board of Education, town, and village governments, too, run on volunteer steam: these board members, supervisors, mayors, trustees, legislators, committee members, and appointees aren’t in it for the big paycheck. We’re humbled when imagining the amount of time and dedication these volunteers devote to a sometimes thankless task, serving a public that can be quick to judge and criticize yet take for granted the day-to-day quality of life that these volunteers make possible.
Village of Cooperstown Trustees Dr. Richard Sternberg, left, and Sydney Sheehan, right, flank Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh after the three took their oaths of office for their new terms.
Village of Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh this month embarks on her third two-year term leading the village, hopeful COVID’s worst is behind but proud of the work she, the Village Board of Trustees, and Village employees were able to continue throughout the pandemic’s worst months.
“Only now in retrospect are we seeing how all-consuming COVID management was for every person in this village,” she said in a conversation with The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta. “We had to just keep moving along as the guidance changed and the requirements shifted.”
“I’m very proud that we never laid off or furloughed employees during COVID,” she said. “We were told that we had to reduce the number of people in the offices so we had a number of people working remotely, but our Village
Rich McCaffery displays his award with Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh
After logging decades of tireless service to his community, Cooperstown’s Rich McCaffery has become only one of 100 people across the country to receive a Certificate of National Recognition as a Civic Volunteer.
“Nominating Rich for this award was an easy choice,” said Village Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh. “There is no one more deserving.”
The Village of Cooperstown’s Board of Trustees voted last week to raise the Ukrainian flag alongside the United States flag at the entrance to Village Hall on Main Street, welcoming Ukrainian emigre Aliona Yezhova, her son, Joshua Echavarria, and village residents to a brief March 11 celebration of the people of Ukraine.
“It means so much to me and my family that we have been made to feel so welcome here,” said Ms. Yezhova, a physicans’ assistant who moved to the village from Queens, New York, with her son. Joshua, a sixth-grader at Cooperstown Central School, carried with him a hand-painted Ukrainian flag emblazoned with a peace sign at its center.
Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh and village trustees greeted the family on the steps of Village Hall, pledging their support for them, their relatives, and their fellow Ukrainians in the now-war-ravaged nation.
“Some of my family was able to escape to Moldova but brother-in-law stayed behind in Kyiv to fight in the reserves,” Ms. Yezhova. “That this village wants to fly Ukraine’s flag helps bring awareness and remind everyone that the country needs us all to be thinking of them and praying for them.”
She said she was able to communicate with some family members through Skype, but Russia’s invasion had tested the resiliency of the region’s infrastructure.
“I know it is hard for people in this country to deal with the higher gas prices but it is such an important way to support Ukraine,” she said. “Thank you to this community for all of your support.”
[Editor’s note: This week’s allotsego.com carries a letter from Aliona Yezhova; read that letter here: https://www.allotsego.com/181291-2/]
The head of President Joe Biden’s Small Business Administration, Isabella Casillas Guzman, spent the afternoon of Friday, March 4 in Cooperstown with Congressman Antonio Delgado hosting a tour of some of the Village’s best-known small businesses. Along with Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh and Otsego County Treasurer Allen Ruffles, the group discussed the president’s key infrastructure initiative, SBA outreach, pandemic relief and recovery, and other issues before convening a small business forum at Cooperstown Village Hall. Here, from left to right, Rep. Delgado, Mayor Tillapaugh, Baseball Hall of Fame President Josh Rawitch, and Administrator Casillas Guzman listen as Eric Strohl, Vice President of Exhibits and Collections at the Hall of Fame, shares details of the ‘women in baseball’ exhibit on permanent display at the Hall. Earlier in the afternoon, the group visited Cooperstown Distillery on Railroad Avenue and Cooperstown Bat Company on Main Street. We’ll have a full story on the afternoon coming up in the March 10 print and on-line editions of The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta / allotsego.com.
It’s late February; by now, baseball fans everywhere should be celebrating the return of pitchers and catchers to their Spring Training homes across the warmer climes of Florida and Arizona and eagerly awaiting the first at-bats of the exhibition games that prepare major leaguers for the 2022 regular season.
Baseball fans are, instead, reliving that disconcerting, Groundhog Day-type doubt that the season will begin on time thanks to the lockout owners began on December 2, 2021. Major League Baseball (MLB) comprises the ballclub owners; they’re currently negotiating with the Major League Baseball Players’ Association (MLBPA) on a wide-ranging agenda of conditions that fans hope will lead to a new collective bargaining agreement in time for the new season. The owners reportedly consider February 28 as the latest the two sides can reach an agreement without delaying Opening Day, currently scheduled for March 31.
For Cooperstown, the work stoppage brings back memories of past labor strife that brought the game to a standstill. Former village mayor Jeff Katz, author of “Split Season,” the 2015 book examining the 1981 MLBPA strike that shut down the game mid-season, said a prolonged work stoppage can hurt.
“Historically, labor stoppages have hurt Hall of Fame attendance,” he said. “It really took a dive after the big strike in 1994.”
Despite the parallels between this year’s owner-instituted lockout and the 1981 ‘split season’ described so thoroughly in his book, Mr. Katz noted new factors driving visitor draw to Cooperstown.
Cooperstown’s upcoming mayoral and trustee elections take place this year on March 15, but if one village trustee has his way, subsequent year voting would move to align with general elections held in November.
Trustee MacGuire Benton says he wants the date change to expand voter access as “democracy comes under attack across America.”
“Right now village residents can vote from noon until 9 p.m. in March and not in November when every other election is held,” Mr. Benton said. “My proposal gives six more hours for voting because we could start casting our village ballots at six in the morning on Election Day. Right now, we have no days for early voting. My proposal would give nine days of early voting.”
Greetings, Friends! The time is nigh
To bid this Covid Year good-bye.
We’ve had enough, we’ve played our parts
Stayed home alone filling Amazon carts.
And cleaning our closets and working online
Making do with our WiFi that’s not always fine.
We’ve said goodbye to some friends, to some relatives too
Our families we’ve not seen, travel’s been so taboo.
Goodbye ’21, au revoir, off you go
Adios and kwaheri, arrivederci, adjo.
Go away ’21! But wait! Not before
TFJ has its way with some thank-yous galore.
Cooperstown: In on dispensaries, out on on-site “consumption lounges.”
By not voting on a measure that would find the village opting out of allowing retail marijuana dispensaries, trustees defaulted to an automatic opt in that would allow the siting of dispensaries within village limits once New York State establishes its regulatory framework.
Separating dispensaries from on-site “consumption lounges,” the Board voted 5-2 to opt out of permitting locations within the village where smokers could legally inhale pot in a public indoor space. Trustees Hanna Bergene and Joseph Membrino cast their votes against the opt-out.
Some two dozen Cooperstown residents were almost evenly divided in comments during a public hearing Monday, December 6, to address a pending Board of Trustees vote that would find the Village opting out of allowing the retail sale of marijuana within Cooperstown’s borders.
New York legalized the sale of marijuana in April, and allowed local governments to choose whether they want dispensaries and lounges where customers could smoke on-site. To opt out, however, that same state law requires a local government to pass a local law no later than December 31, 2021. Failure to do so automatically opens the locality to dispensaries and lounges; those local governments that vote to opt out prior to the year-end deadline may repeal that local law through permissive referendum at a later date to allow for retail sale.